Gold rush! Those words were rattling through Meagan and I’s heads as we headed up towards Nome Creek on the Steese Highway north of Fairbanks. The plan was to gold pan the Nome creek recreational gold panning area in the morning and then take off later in the day to backpack up to Mt. Prindle.
Needless to say, we did not strike it rich although we did get a *very* little piece of “color” in the pan. The area was quite packed with large motorhomes which beg the question of how and why they got them back there in the first place. Since Meagan and I are much happier hearing the creek noises than those of fellow campers we drove back down the road and found an empty spot near the creek to pitch our tent.
The following day broke with the sun’s heat working its way into our early morning dreams as it turned our tent into an fiery sauna. The hike began well with several creek crossing which require a second set of water shoes to cross as the water is not overly deep but will turn your legs numb within seconds. Once out of the willows of the creek bed the view up the valley reveals itself and gives you just enough of a mountain view to tease you forward. The hiking went well although we were perhaps a few weeks early as the trail was hidden by several large snow patches which required sloppy post holing and most of the trail was covered in a small flowing creek.
As we reached our chosen campsite in a bowl just before climbing up to the ridge that will take you to the top of Mt. Prindle we noticed the dogs were getting on edge. In the Alaskan wilderness this is usually a good sign to get your bear spray or gun handy. Climbing a small knoll we looked up valley and spotted a group of eight wolves working their way in our direction. We quickly grabbed the dogs, took our packs off and prepared to defend ourselves. After some discussion we decided to try and make noise to scare the wolves off, a few loud calls and we succeeded. It was a mixed felling watching the wolves launch water into the air as they ran across the saturated tundra. What a neat experience it would have been to have a closer encounter, but what a relief that we did not have one either. We did however have many close encounters with Alaska’s smallest bird the mosquitoe. Which can be seen flying around the lens in the photo below.
The night passed without incident with the four of us (two dogs) crammed inside a rather small two person tent. We stayed up well into the morning watching the sky paint itself every color it could come up with. We had to remind ourselves to go to bed and not wait for the darkness to give us that cue.
We headed up to Mt. Prindle’s south west ridge after a fantastic oatmeal breakfast filled with the essential dates, nuts, brown sugar and powdered milk. With every gain in elevation more and more of Prindle’s fantastic tors were revealed, each one looking like a new scale to some sleeping giant. After playing around on the rocks and watching a local marmot who had perched himself in a precarious position, Meagan too decided to take a small nap.Fearing we would get caught in a nasty lightning storm that was headed our way if we continued on to summit Prindle, we turned around and headed back to camp. The weather quickly turned bad leaving us in our tent for several hours as it sounded like chicken little’s words may have been prophetic.
In all it was a fantastic getaway and a must do hike for anyone in the interior looking for a change in scenery. The Prindle Mountain area is unlike anything else around.